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Kiwanis club to support, inspire kids in foster care

Jennifer Morlan | May 14, 2021

Children in foster care face almost unfathomable challenges: trauma from having lived in neglectful, abusive or volatile homes, the loss of friends and family relationships, unpredictable living arrangements.

All this leaves emotional scars on children, but it has an additional effect — children who are in foster care are almost always behind their peers educationally.

The Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key in Florida has received a grant from the Kiwanis Children’s Fund to help reverse the academic slide children in foster care experience. With the grant and fundraising, the club raised enough money for the Children’s Guardian Fund to provide professional tutoring to more than 40 students.

Svetlana Ivashchenko, executive director of the Children’s Guardian Fund, said Kiwanis’ assistance comes at a critical time and will allow tutoring to continue through the summer. Without the club’s help, the organization, which is based in Sarasota, Florida, would have had to pause summer services due to loss of income and stress of greater need during the pandemic.

“Now that we've had so much support, we may be able to continue tutoring ongoing through the summer months, which is really exciting,” Ivashchenko said. 

The professional tutors work one-on-one weekly for six months with kids in first grade through GED prep, Ivashchenko said. The tutors identify the students’ educational gaps, make sure they get their homework done and teach them how to ask questions. 

Ivashchenko said tutoring is so important because children in foster care might move two to three times during a school year.

“A child might be learning multiplication in one school, but a teacher in the next school is working on division. They feel stupid, in addition to worry about things most kids don’t have to deal with. Tutoring gives them their academic future back. Without it, they fall farther and farther behind,” said Ivashchenko, who joined the Longboat Key Kiwanis Club last year.

While the Kiwanians won’t be working directly with the children, they are creating a service component to the project. The club is recording members talking about their careers to create a database for students to browse so they can see different paths to success, said club President Lynn Larson.

Larson said she hopes kids can see that it’s “not always a straight line to get to where you want to be, and sometimes you may not even know where you want to be, but opportunities open up.” 

Kiwanians’ generous support of the Kiwanis Children’s Fund makes grants like this possible. Learn more about the impact your gift can make.  

 

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